United Club℠ Infinite Card review: Premium travel perks for loyal United flyers

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Snapshot

4.4

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Chase Image

United Club℠ Infinite Card

Rewards rate

1X–4X

Annual fee

$525

Intro offer

Earn 100,000 bonus miles

Regular APR

19.49% - 26.49% Variable

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent  (740 - 850)

United Club Infinite Card Overview

Frequent travelers loyal to United Airlines should consider the United Club℠ Infinite Card from Chase. The card’s premium travel perks focus on an improved airline experience and include expedited airport entry for peace of mind and complimentary (normally costly) United Club airport lounge access.

However, the Club Infinite card’s steep $525 annual fee and relatively low rewards rates might be tough to swallow for those that are focused on rewards over travel perks or budget-conscious cardholders who aren’t staunch loyalists. In that case, one of the less expensive United Airlines cards might be the wiser option.

Still, the laundry list of ways to save on flights with United along with numerous travel and shopping protections provide plenty of value for frequent travelers who should have no problem offsetting the annual fee. In fact, the sheer airline savings make the United Club Infinite one of the best cards for checked baggage—as long as you don’t mind committing to United Airlines, of course.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • Generous welcome offer
  • 4X miles on United Airlines purchases
  • Worldwide United Airlines and Star Alliance airport lounge access
  • Free checked bags on United-operated flights
  • Global Entry and TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursement
  • 25 percent back on purchases made on United-operated flights using your Club Infinite Card

Cons

  • No 0 percent intro APR offer on purchases or balance transfers
  • $525 annual fee
  • Requires very good to excellent credit to qualify

A deeper look into the new current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: 4X miles on United Airlines purchases, 2X miles on all other travel purchases, dining and eligible delivery services; 1X miles on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: Earn 100,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
  • Annual fee: $525
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer Intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 19.49 percent to 26.49 percent (variable)

Current welcome offer

New cardholders can earn 100,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

This is a very valuable offer, worth about $1,100 based on the Bankrate’s latest airline mile valuations, which give United miles a value of 1.1 cents per mile on average. This bonus beats out welcome offers from many premium travel cards, especially airline cards. However, you have to consider the value of flexible rewards that can be used effectively outside United Airlines as well.

Rewards rate

The United Club Infinite Card is an airline rewards credit card that earns miles you can redeem through the United MileagePlus program for things like travel, dining, entertainment, gift cards and more. Your points don’t expire as long as your account remains open.

How you earn

You’ll earn unlimited 4X miles for all United Airlines travel purchases, including:

  • Baggage fees
  • Ticket upgrades
  • In-flight meals and beverages
  • Wi-Fi
  • Other United purchases

You’ll also earn 2X miles on:

  • Non-United travel purchases
  • Dining
  • Eligible food delivery services.

All other purchases will earn 1X miles.

Unfortunately, these rewards rates aren’t very strong compared to other travel cards in the United Club infinite card’s price range—or even its sibling cards. Based on an estimated $15,900 yearly spend and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics spending data, the average cardholder may only earn about $314 in rewards value each year with the United Club Infinite.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® card rakes in an average of about $510 in rewards on the same spend on a $550 annual fee. Meanwhile, the United Quest℠ Card almost matches United’s flagship card with about $314 in rewards each year on the same budget at less than half the annual fee ($250). This means that if you’re not planning to make the most of the United Club Infinite’s other features, one of its less-expensive siblings may be the better choice.

How to redeem

You can redeem your earned miles through the United MileagePlus program for flights on United or with one of its Star Alliance airline partners for the best bang for your buck.

Your point values may vary, but you can also redeem miles for other things, including:

  • Hotel stays
  • Car rentals
  • Cruises
  • Merchandise and Apple products in the MileagePlus catalog
  • Gift cards
  • MileagePlus experiences
  • Airport dining
  • In-flight and airport amenities, like Wi-Fi, TSA PreCheck and United Club membership
  • Elite status Premier Qualification Points (PQPs)
  • Charitable donations and mile gifts to other accountholders

Other cardholder perks

With the United Club Infinite Card, not only do you get elite United Airlines travel benefits, but you also get Chase credit card and Visa Infinite cardholder perks as well.

Taking advantage of these perks can be key to getting as much value as possible out of your card. Currently, all of the features with monetary value add up to $1,125 each year, which can more than offset the $525 annual fee (assuming two roundtrip flights with a companion per year and eligible checked baggage).

It becomes even less intimidating (and keeps your rewards in your pocket) when you consider that just two free checked bags each for you and a companion will more than recoup the card’s yearly cost across only two roundtrip flights. What’s more, taking regular advantage of the United Club lounges is also more than enough to cover the annual fee.

This yearly benefit value is even more impressive when you consider that other travel cards with an annual fee around $500 don’t even offer this much monetary value in perks alone. Although much of the value is only available through United flights, the United Club Infinite still soars above many cards built for air travel—even those that aren’t co-branded.

United Club Membership

You‘ll automatically get United Club membership as long as you’re a cardholder. This gets you and eligible travel companions access into all United Club and Star Alliance affiliated airport lounge locations worldwide.

Without the card, United Club membership costs $650 a year.

United Airlines Benefits

Since the United Club Infinite is the airline’s premier credit card, it rightfully comes with several features to make flying with United a smoother experience.

  • United Club membership: An automatic, complimentary membership that provides you and eligible travel companions access to all United Club and Star Alliance affiliated airport lounge locations worldwide (otherwise, $650 per year).
  • United Premier Access: Get priority check-in, priority boarding and baggage handling privileges for you and your travel companions at airports where United Premier Access is available. Otherwise, Premier Access would cost $15 for each flight if you didn’t qualify for it with your United Club card or another method.
  • 25 percent back on in-flight purchases: You’ll receive 25 percent back in statement credits for all in-flight purchases spent on United-operated flights when you pay with your card.
  • Free checked baggage: As the primary cardholder, you and one travel companion on the same reservation will each get two free checked bags on United-operated flights. This means a roundtrip flight can save you and your companion up to $320 together when you buy the airfare with your card and include your MileagePlus number with the booking.
  • Upgrades for award flights: If you have MileagePlus Premier status and you book an award flight for you and your companion, you may receive a complimentary Premier Upgrade on select flights (if available).
  • Extra Premier Qualifying Points: Frequent United flyers can qualify for Premier loyalty status and receive bonus rewards and perks through means like earning Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs). United Club Infinite cardholders can earn an additional 500 PQPs for every $12,000 in combined purchases—up to 4,000 PQPs per calendar year. This may not be practical for big spenders that don’t use their United Club Infinite as their primary card, especially since the base-level Premier status (Premier Silver) requires up to 3,500 PQPs, but it’s worth keeping in the back of your mind.

Annual statement credits

The United Club Infinite also comes with yearly travel credits to help offset the annual fee.

  • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS application fee statement credit: By using your card to complete either the Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS applications, you can receive an up to $100 credit for the fee to maintain your expedited screening service. Although this perk is common, this card’s offer is a bit unique in that it adds NEXUS to the application credit choices.
  • $70 discount toward CLEAR: Another popular airline card benefit (although less common than the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit), this perk provides a $70 discount toward the $179 annual CLEAR membership to eliminate headaches from your airport visit. This is a great value, but it’s worth noting some travel cards do provide a $100 CLEAR membership credit
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Bankrate insight
The United Club Infinite card has a few limited-time offers that could add some notable value back into your wallet if they line up with your plans:
  • On top of the $70 CLEAR annual membership discount, cardholders that sign up for their membership before June 30, 2022, can receive 10,000 bonus miles—worth $121 based on recent mile valuations.
  • Through Dec. 31, 2022, you can receive up to $75 in statement credits from purchases with your card at eligible IHG hotel and resort properties.

Premier hotel, rental car and entertainment upgrades

Your United Club Infinite Card comes with multiple premier upgrades that give you access to things like:

  • The Chase United card member luxury hotel and resort collection
  • Special United Card events from Chase like celebrity meet-and-greets, private culinary exhibits and sporting events
  • United MileagePlus events like Broadway shows, concerts and theater showings
  • A chance to enroll in the Avis President’s Club, which provides rental car privileges such as two complimentary two-car class upgrades, guaranteed vehicle availability and expedited service
  • Complimentary IHG Rewards Platinum Elite status, a loyalty status tier that grants additional rewards and perks with popular hotel brands like Holiday Inn, Regent, Atwell Suites and more

Travel coverage and purchase protections

Since the United Club Infinite card comes with the highest level of Visa benefits, it carries a rich roster of travel and shopping protections. In fact, its sought-after perks like trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement and return protection (the latter of which is rare nowadays) place it among the best cards for travel insurance. Plus, you can also enjoy the added convenience of Visa Infinite’s top-of-the-line concierge service if your busy schedule could use personalized assistance to help plan out your itinerary.

The stand-out protections that you’ll probably want to make the most of include:

  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Visa concierge service
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Purchase protection
  • Return protection
  • Extended warranty

How much are the rewards worth?

According to The Points Guy’s latest valuation, United miles are typically worth about 1.21 cents when redeemed for travel and less when used for non-travel expenses. When using your United miles to book flights, the MileagePlus program has two major choices than can affect your miles’ value:

  • Saver Awards are your best bet to get the full-redemption value of your miles since you’ll be able to book United Economy or United Express with 10 percent fewer miles. However, flights are capacity controlled and sometimes harder to book.
  • Everyday Awards tend to have more flights available, but it’ll cost you more miles to book.

You can also redeem miles for other travel (including, hotels, car rentals and more), United goods and services, merchandise and more, but you won’t get as much value out of your miles with these options.

Rates and fees

Like many premium travel cards, the United Club Infinite Card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees for purchases abroad and there are no intro APR offers. The current variable APR is 19.49 percent to 26.49 percent, which is comparable to rival cards and sits slightly above the current average credit card interest rate if you qualify for the lowest APR.

The $525 annual fee is high but comparable to the yearly fee found with many top travel cards. Fortunately, this shouldn’t be too big of an issue for most travelers, even if the United Club Infinite isn’t your primary rewards card. You may even be able to recoup the cost through free checked baggage and just a few other perks.

Relying on your perks can help you counter the relatively low rewards rates without eating through your bonus miles. You probably won’t want to lean solely on earning rewards to make up for the fee anyway because it would still take spending almost $904 on United purchases each month to cover the annual fee at TPG’s 1.21-cent estimated mile value.

Bankrate staff experience

In the experience of Bankrate contributor Erica Sandberg, also a financial specialist on our Expert Review Board, this credit card is a standout pick among jet-setting travelers that plan to take advantage of their card’s host of features—not just its rewards program.

The United Club Infinite Card is an excellent airline card for the frequent United flyer who wants to rack up rewards and enjoy a VIP airport experience.

— Erica SandbergBankrate Financial Expert Review Board member

How the United Club Infinite Card compares to other airline/travel cards

If you’re a frequent traveler who likes premium perks and always flies United, this card might be a good option for you. But if you aren’t loyal to United, a premium travel card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or The Platinum Card® from American Express might be a better option for you because they’ll have more flexible redemption options and more rewards potential at a similar price point.

The United Club Infinite’s rich roster of travel and purchase protections and no-nonsense United-centric benefits don’t require you to depend on an eclectic variety of other features (like the Platinum Card’s annual credits that cover select streaming services, Uber and fitness programs) or require you to use the issuer’s redemption portal (like the Chase Sapphire Reserve) to make the most of your card.

The United Club Infinite does have a weaker rewards potential than these two heavy-hitting competitors, but it offers plenty of value if you’re loyal to United and care more about saving on travel conveniences. However, if you’re dead-set on a United Airlines card and you’re focused on reward travel rather than the journey’s comfort, a lower-priced United card like the United Quest is likely your best alternative.

Chase Image

United Club℠ Infinite Card

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4.4

Annual fee

$525

Intro offer

Earn 100,000 bonus miles

Rewards rate

1X–4X

Recommended credit

Excellent(740 - 850)
Chase Image

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Annual fee

$550

Intro offer

60,000 points

Rewards rate

1x–10x

Recommended credit

Excellent(740 - 850)
American Express Image

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual fee

$695

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 points

Rewards rate

5X–5X

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)

Best cards to pair with the United Club Infinite card

To maximize your rewards earnings, consider pairing a complementary low-cost rewards card with the Club Infinite card. For example, a no-annual-fee cash-back card that offers rewards in one of your biggest spending categories—such as grocery or gas station purchases—could be a great fit.

One popular card is the Citi® Double Cash Card which earns a flat cash-back rate of up to 2 percent back on all purchases (1 percent when you buy and 1 percent as you pay off purchases).

However, a lower-cost general-purpose travel card that can transfer its rewards to the United MileagePlus for spending outside United could be a great partner as well. For instance, Chase cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines’ rewards program.

Bankrate’s Take: Is the United Club Infinite card worth it?

If you’re looking to maximize rewards on all your travel needs, the Club Infinite card probably won’t be your first choice. However, frequent United Airlines flyers that prioritize speedy and smooth airport trips with a few checked bags in tow will likely find the Club Infinite’s annual fee less intimidating than it looks on paper.

Its rewards rates are underwhelming compared to rival cards’ in its class and even its less-expensive sibling cards. However, those planning to stack on rewards modifiers with Premier status can help close the gap considering the United Club Infinite’s—which help make it perhaps the best United card for loyalists and perhaps the best airline card for checked bags.

The information about the United Club℠ Infinite Card and United Quest℠ Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card from American Express, please click here.